Alex Ovechkin wants referees and linesmen to show more “respect,” as the Washington Capitals captain pointed out Sunday that players can’t say one word without being penalized.
Center Mike Ribeiro picked up his third unsportsmanlike conduct penalty of the season Saturday in a 5-2 loss at the New York Islanders, the team’s fifth in 23 games.
“Of course some refs don’t like some personalities on our team, but anyway, you have to respect us,” Ovechkin said Sunday morning. “We’re emotional, we’re in the game. When we say something bad to linesmen or bad to referees, we can’t give them two minutes when they yell at me or they yell at coaches or yell somebody. It’s kind of position when they have to give us a break.
“If we’re over top of our yelling or screaming, yeah, of course you have to give us two or five or 10, it’s their call. Not like if we say one word to them like you’re gonna get two minutes right away and you’re gonna sit on the bench and they’re gonna score and we say, ‘OK, good job.’ ”
Ribeiro mentioned after his first unsportsmanlike penalty Jan. 22 that players can’t say anything to officials anymore. The 33-year-old has something of a reputation for complaining about calls and lack thereof.
Ribeiro was also given two 10-minute misconducts for yapping at officials, once Jan. 22 against the Winnipeg Jets and once Feb. 27 at the Philadelphia Flyers. Sunday at the Islanders, he only got a two-minute minor, in addition to high-sticking, but New York scored on the extra minor.
Ovechkin said officials missed a call against the Islanders that happened before Ribeiro’s high-sticking penalty.
“It’s very frustrating at times. Not to make excuses but when a play happens in the middle of the ice how do four guys miss it?” coach Adam Oates said. “A guy gets a stick under his shield and his helmet gets half turned around and we’re frustrated. Then Hendy gets hauled down and then Mike gets a ticky-tack foul, which was a penalty, but after what we just witnessed it’s tough. It’s difficult. It’s part of the game. Mike knows better. He can’t do that.”
The whole team knows better. Ribeiro has three unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, while Jason Chimera, Troy Brouwer and Joey Crabb each have one.
“We can’t make excuses for those types of penalties,” forward Matt Hendricks said. “The officials are gonna call what they’re gonna call. You can try and press their buttons, but sooner or later it’s gonna come back and bite you, which it did [Saturday]. We gotta take the blame on those.”
Oates played 19 NHL seasons. Things are a bit different now.
“They don’t like the guys swearing anymore, which of course I understand, except when you’ve been doing it your whole life how do you expect guys to change in the heat of the battle,” Oates said. “I think that’s really tough.”
Ovechkin said “right now you can’t say nothing” to officials.
“Even if you’re captain, even if you’re not a captain, even if you’re the fan, you’re still gonna get two minutes,” he said. “And the linesmen are the same. They don’t do their job to drop the puck and watch the offside and the icing, they just watch somebody talking on the ice. … So it’s kind of situation when sometimes referee do a good job, sometimes referee do a bad job. So everybody have a bad night. In that kind of position when you tie the game and it’s 50/50 chances for both team, you have to make sure hundred percent call. [Saturday] the call two minutes on Ribs, it cost us the game.”
Ovechkin added: “I think the league and the [Players’ Association] have to look at it and make a changes.”